Mozilla has launched a Firefox browser add-on that limits Facebook’s ability to track a user’s online activity. The add-on ‘Facebook Container’ isolates users Facebook sessions from the rest of their web activity. It’s designed to prevent Facebook from collecting information on other sites that users visit and target them with ads and other messages.
How does it work? When you install the extension, it deletes your Facebook cookies from the browser and logs you out at first. The next time you open Facebook, it will be opened in a blue-coloured tab or “container” and you have to log back in.
From within that container tab, you can continue to use Facebook normally. If you click on a link, on your timeline, that takes you to an external website, it will load that page outside the container. If you click any Facebook share buttons outside of Facebook, it will load those in the Facebook container.
Embedded Facebook comments and Like buttons that a staple of multiple websites won’t work with this addon enabled.
Mozilla’s Firefox Frontier Blog explains,
“This prevents Facebook from associating information about your activity on websites outside of Facebook to your Facebook identity. So it may look different than what you are used to seeing.”
Wouldn’t have prevented Cambridge Analytica
It is important to note that an addon like this would not have prevented users’ data from being compromised by Cambridge Analytica. The extension also does nothing to prevent Facebook advertisers from diving into your profile and your activity while on the social network in order to target you with advertisements while browsing Facebook.
Cambridge Analytica amassed a massive chunk of Facebook user data for some 50 million people without ever getting their permission, investigative reports by The New York Times and the Observer revealed last week.
The entire episode once again brought into focus the issue of private data and how it should be handled. Facebook has a problematic track record on privacy. Its business model is built on gathering personal data. It knows your real name, who your friends are, your likes and interests, where you have been, what websites you have visited, what you look like and how you speak. All of this is used to serve Facebook’s primary customers, advertisers.
Tools like ‘Facebook Container’ though will help users somewhat limit what Facebook tracks about them. This might be a good middle ground for those who are not yet ready to delete Facebook altogether but want to limit the platform somehow.